September 30, 2004
Write my profile
Register it on the relevant websites
Call my contacts
Register myself as self employed
That's right! Jonesy is going freelance. Wish me luck... I'm going to need it.
September 29, 2004
And so began a long, long day. But not an unproductive one. There are plans afoot, dear readers. Plans afoot. And no, they don't involve becoming a recruitment consultant. Over my dead, cold, buried body.
More tomorrow. Now it's time for a large glass of wine and a long hot bath.
September 28, 2004
Yes. The big R. Redundancy.
"Ms Jones. There's no easy way to say this but we no longer require a marketing function."
"You may know that we've let Helen go."
"No, I didn't."
"And I'm afraid we're going to have to make you redundant too."
"Now, you don't have statutory redundancy rights because you haven't been with us for over two years. But we'll pay you for this month and for next month and you can leave now."
"Right. Where do I sign?"
"Now, I know this has come as a shock and it's a bit like 'well you've done the website and the brochure and now we don't need you anymore.'"
"Yep. Where do I sign?"
"And I'll give you personal references. I really want you to find work so just let me know when, who, where and how."
"Okay, where do I sign?"
"And I can leave now?"
"Yes. Now. Is there anything you'd like to do apart from scream, shout or cry?"
"Nope, I'm totally fine. If I could just leave and then you annouce it to everyone, I'll come back later in the week for my stuff."
"Right. Bye then."
"Bye. And thanks for your work."
"Oh, no problem at all."
And with that I walked out of the job that has been dragging me down, holding me back, making me dread each and every workday. With that I left the most political work environment this side of Whitehall. With that I was set free.
Tomorrow I have a meeting with my recruitment consultant. My CV is updated and ready to go. I've got two months pay in my pocket. I've bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate and am sharing it with my equally unemployed sister and flatmate.
Yes, I'm nervous. Yes it might be hard but as the great Nina Simone once sang:
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life and I'm feeling good!
While I haven’t seen much of Portugal I can imagine it to be a beautiful country. There’s just one problem with the place. The men!
Now, before I go on I want to emphasize that a very large proportion of Portuguese men are friendly, respectful and courteous. Unfortunately a greater proportion of them are slimy, sleazy creeps with absolutely no respect for women.
Everywhere we went we were whistled at like dogs, clicked at, hissed at, whooped at, beeped at and eyed up like three pieces of meat. Bambina, Bob and I, well we’re nothing that special; not mingers but not beauty queens either. However, Bob and I scored for being blonde and Bambina for her petite, dark looks that many Mediterranean males would covet.
Men would lean over their wives as they drove by, honking their horns or shouting out of the window. The women would just look on, resigned to the fact that their husbands were vile and repugnant men with no respect for them whatsoever.
As you can imagine, this kind of behaviour went down like a shit sandwich. Bambina was used to it living in Rome, and while Bob and I did our best to ignore it we couldn't hide our annoyance.
Strolling around Lisbon one evening when we wandered into a small, pretty square that we knew would give us a good view over the city. To one side sat a group of about twelve young men and we braced ourselves for the inevitable comments. To our surprise and delight, none came and so we lingered, taking in the view.
As we turned to leave I leant over to Bob and said, “Isn’t that refreshing. Not a peep. Maybe the younger generation are more respectf...”
Befor I could finish my sentence I was interrupted by a shout from amidst the group:
“I want to fack yorr poossy.”
For perhaps the first time in my life I was speechless, but fortunately Bob pulled herself together: “Well, that’s nice. Would you like to meet my mother before or after?”
You’ve got to love her!
September 27, 2004
But recently life has been passing off without incident and I could have been forgiven for thinking I’d been released. My trip to France a few weeks ago was fuckwit free and my renovation efforts seem to be shaping up nicely. In fact the worst thing I’ve done of late was to forget to pack my allergy tablets and I’m fucked if I know the Portuguese for “antihistamine”.
But then Saturday happened. Saturday. The day of my return to the UK. The day I realised that the Curse Lord had merely been toying with me and that the Curse of Ms Jones had a grip stronger than ever before, a grip that extended to those close to me.
It all started when, after packing my case and hand luggage, I realised I was no longer in possession of my passport or house keys. I unpacked and packed again. No sign. I unpacked and packed again, this time checking all my pockets. Still no sign. And so I did what any mature adult would do in my situation. I panicked. I tore the flat apart looking behind the sofa, under the bed, in the fridge and in the microwave. Nothing, zip, nada, zilche. They were nowhere.
Then Bob pointed to a small bag next to my suitcase. “What’s in there?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing. Just some rubbish,” I replied.
“Did you check that you didn’t put them in there by mistake?”
“It’s just rubbish,” I replied, slightly annoyed. Christ, did she think I was blonde or something?
Undeterred by my irritability she picked up the bag, looked inside and produced one passport and one set of house keys (complete with Elvis key ring). Relieved, I hugged her, apologised for being an arse and got the rest of my shit together.
Bob and Bambina (our Italian friend who joined us on holiday) weren’t leaving until the next day and so the plan was to have one last lunch together before dropping me off at the airport. They would then head to the beach before going back to the apartment to clean it up and pack for their flights the next morning.
I think you'll agree that it was a good plan, a plan marred only by Bob locking everyone out of the flat. Even before the door clicked shut she knew that the keys were on the mantle piece and not in her handbag, information that failed to be transmitted to her arm before it slammed the door behind her.
Immediately we discussed the options. A friend in Lisbon had a spare set but he wasn’t answering his phone. We decided to go the agent who had sold Bob’s boyfriend the flat. They didn’t have a set but suggested we use a credit card to break in. The receptionist even offered to do it for us, which left us to speculate as to the nature of her Saturday job.
Bob was confident that her friend in Lisbon would come through and so we decided to stick to our plan. We headed to the harbour where we found a little terraced restaurant and ate our food watching the fishing fleet come in. Bambina insisted on paying for the lunch to say thank you to Bob and goodbye to me. The bill came and she reached into her handbag to find her wallet. It wasn’t there. She emptied the contents onto the table but there was no sign.
“It must be in the car,” I ventured, hopefully. It wasn’t.
Time was running out and we headed to the airport. I jumped out, grabbed my suitcase and said my goodbyes. Just before entering the airport I turned to wave a solemn farewell to the keyless Bob and the bagless Bambina, a forlorn pair who I had no choice but to leave to their fate. Let's face it. They'd probably be better off without me.
Bad luck comes in threes, I thought, and so things will be just fine here on in. And they were… until I landed, until I went to baggage reclaim with my fellow passengers, until we waited forty-five minutes, until TAP airlines announced that due to a fuel shortage they didn’t bother bringing our luggage with us from Lisbon, until I had to fill in an unnecessarily complicated yellow form describing the nature (black) and contents (clothes, tampons and port) of my baggage, until I had to hand it in to a defensive airline representative who was about as useful as a blind guide dog.
It’s Monday. Still no luggage.
Beware the Curse of Ms Jones!
September 24, 2004
Hands up who thinks Hope should start her own blog?
Hope, thanks so much for looking after the old place for me. You´ve been superb!!! Give The Gaffer and Our Kid big hugs from me and I´ll see you when you get back.
I´ll catch up with the rest of you reprobates on Monday.
Not an auspicious start but we bonded a bit a week or so later when the previous owner’s piano was finally removed from my flat. Mrs H came out to see what all the noise was about (four large blokes wrestling a piano down rather a narrow stairway): “I hate pianos. I always had to dust my mother’s piano when I was little. Can’t stand them.”
Further to the piano, Mrs H is now very chatty. Luckily nodding and making “mmm” noises seems to be all that is required of my part of the conversation as I’m normally either baffled or about to get the giggles after her opening salvo. I’m starting to suspect that she’s not actually a mad old lady but is in fact an Olympic level competitor in “guerrilla conversation”. The object is to ambush the victim with your first words and then gain points for how long you can talk at them until they pull themselves together enough to get away. Recent examples include:
Mrs H sweeping the hallway: “I was just getting the seed out and I dropped it. I hate that cockatoo and it hates me. I keep it clean for my late husband’s sake because he liked it but it hates me too. I wish it would die I really do.”
Mrs H watering the hanging baskets: “‘Every little helps’ as the old lady said while peeing in the sea”.
Mrs H, appearing as I open the front door last night: “All my bras and knickers smell of garlic! Those boys downstairs cook with garlic all the time. I had put my underwear in the cupboard by the boiler but the smells come up. I’ve had to wash it all”.
Speechless. 20 minutes. New Olympic record.
September 23, 2004
The thing is, I’ve always rather fancied the idea of being a novelist – although I suspect that on close scrutiny this boils down to wanting to potter around the house in my slippers jotting down the occasional bon mot, rather than having a fantastic story brewing inside which I just have to set down on paper. Finally though, earlier this summer I came to realise one thing: I’m never going to be a novelist if I never write anything down at all. There’s part of me which prefers it like that, as if being a “potential” novelist who doesn’t write is somehow better than being a failed novelist who tries to write and discovers their writing is rubbish.
So, I’m easing myself in gently. I’m not going to be a novelist by tomorrow but I am going to be a person who puts pen to paper occasionally. I’m not going to be the natural successor to Jane Austen just yet but at least I might save the creative side of my brain from total atrophy. I’m giving my slippers a chance.
September 22, 2004
H: “Jonesy, you know when I came round to help you strip wallpaper off your kitchen?”
H: “And it took all afternoon, and it was quite hard work…”
H: “That was the wall your builders had to demolish, wasn’t it?”
J: “I wasn’t sure how to tell you….”
September 21, 2004
After college it took a couple of years for me to realise I missed playing and to think about finding a team. Then one day my flatmate told me that a colleague of hers was coaching a team in the park just around the corner from our flat. That was my last excuse gone, so I took a deep breath and turned up for my first training session. A quick assessment of my skills (female – tick; breathing – tick) secured me a place in the starting eleven for the next day.
Pulling on the orange nylon kit was a real bonding experience. Once you’ve faced the world with “The Running Horse” emblazoned across your chest and the ability to glow in the dark, then you’re probably friends for life with anyone else dumb enough to join you. After 90 minutes in ankle deep mud and driving rain we staggered back off the pitch, having heroically kept the score down to a mere 11-0. That was five years ago now and, sure enough, some of the lunatics who played in that game and came back for more went on to become some of my best mates including, of course, Ms Jones.
September 20, 2004
So, for the next 5 days my body is going to be a temple – of the kind that has fountains of blessed water, and harvest festival with organic vegetables, rather than the type with wine libations and orgiastic dancing. My liver is going to get a well earned break, my gym membership card is going to be used for more than naps on the loungers and I’m going to develop an aura of unbearable smugness.
Obviously there is to be NO DRINKING during this project, but thinking ahead perhaps I need a plan to prevent slipping back into bad habits post detox. I thought perhaps making my own warning labels to stick to any alcohol in my vicinity would be a good idea. The ones on cigarettes don’t seem to work but I think that’s because they’re too big picture, for example “Smoking kills” is too far removed from the immediate impact whereas perhaps “Non-smokers think you smell” would give people pause. These are my ideas so far, but any further contributions will be gratefully received:
For bottles of red wine: “There may be two of you but if this is the second bottle you’re going to feel it in the morning”.
For Stella: “It may be reassuringly expensive but you know you’ll fall over after 2 pints – get back on the shandy”.
For tequila: “If this seems like a good idea then it’s time to go home”.
September 17, 2004
Except, the next day work was a bit quiet, so I thought I’d just have a quick peek to see if there had been an update… And the next day… And the next day…. Hooked, completely. When Ms Jones commented in the pub that she had a couple of hundred hits a day I didn’t like to point out most of them were probably me – like the blogging equivalent of throwing bits of gravel at animals in a zoo – bouncing up and down on my chair at work thinking “go on, write something, write something”… I even read the comments but I’ve never actually posted one. So suddenly getting the keys for the place is a bit scary. Like getting picked out of the audience at a panto and having to go up on stage (luckily they tend to do this only to small children not adults so I’m pretty safe there) – perhaps she’ll give all us non-bloggers a balloon twisted into an animal/hat when she gets back.
I got back to the office on Monday to such a load of old bollocks that by the time the clock had struck midday, I’d already booked another holiday. Now THAT is what I call employee dedication!
I’m off to Cascais next week with my old friend Bob (who, despite her chosen pseudonym when she comments, is actually a girl). Eager to find out what to expect from the place I quizzed the Portuguese guy at Columbian Pablo’s sandwich bar.
Jonesy: Hey, Senor Fritas (fritas is Portuguese for chips, and he certainly has one of them on his shoulder). I’m off to Portugal next week!!!
Senor Fritas (glumly): I’m happy for you.
Jonesy: Apparently it’s 27 degrees there today. You think I’ll like Portugal?
Senor Fritas: It depends on where you going.
Senor Fritas (sadly): Ah, Cascais.
Jonesy: What’s it like?
Senor Fritas (shaking his head): I hear nothing good about this place. You should go to Madeira, where I am from.
Jonesy: Too late! I’m going to Cascais.
Senor Fritas: Then I am sorry for you. One pound sixty please.
Miserable fucking bastard!
I’m off on holiday next week and while you bloggers did a massively brilliant job of looking after the old place for me, I thought I’d open it up to a couple of my non-blogging friends. So expect posts from two of the footie girls, someone who’s known me since I was seven and a dashing brummie bloke who gets me drunk and accompanies me to Glastonbury. Please be nice and welcoming but don’t get your hopes up. They’re under strict instruction not to dish too much Jonesy dirt!
See you a week on Monday.
September 16, 2004
You see, I was out for most of August due to a misaligned Sacro-Iliac joint (yeah, I had no idea what it was either) and have been slowly easing my way back to match fitness. And when I say slowly, I mean slowly. Very slowly. In fact, some might say imperceptibly slowly. But hey, it's not like I haven't been making the effort:
I’ve cut back the fags to about ten a day.
I’ve dropped from Strong Continental Lager to Weak Australian Gnat’s Piss. No change in quantity though.
Only 2 bacon sandwiches a week from now on (Mozarella panini intake remains unaffected).
Only had two bars of chocolate today.
Oh, and I’m going swimming more. Well, I went swimming once this week and that’s definitely "more".
Hmmmm. Perhaps there’s some room for improvement after all...
September 15, 2004
Rooming with Weirdoes
Monday saw the departure of Batty Patty and the arrival of my two friends, Trigger and Princess Charming. Before I carry on with my tale, I'd like to rename these two mates of mine. Trigger will be henceforth known as Ms Millwall for reasons that anyone who knows anything about football will understand. Princess Charming, a girl who can get anyone, including my mum, to eat out of the palm of her hand, loses her Princess title. No one with a mouth as foul as hers deserves it! Ms Charming she is, plain and simple... and more than a little vulgar!
The girls were tired after their day of travelling and so we had a quick dip in the pool, grabbed some food, had a few glasses of wine watching the stars and then turned in for an early night. Mum and dad are in the process of renovating the house. Half of it is still uninhabitable and so the three of us were sharing a room. No matter! We’re all good, good mates. What could possibly go wrong?
Ms Jones: Night girls.
Ms Charming: Night.
Ms Millwall: Night.
Ms Charming: Sleep well.
Ms Millwall: You too. Mind if I keep reading?
Ms Jones: Not at all. I’ll be out like a light?
Ms Charming: Me too. Night.
Ms Millwall: Night.
Ms Jones: Night. zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Someone: Can you pass it to me?
Ms Jones (waking up): Eh?
Someone: On the left.
Ms Jones (turning over): What?
Someone: That’s it.
Ms Jones (sleepily): You okay?
Ms Jones turns over and starts to doze off.
A strange sucking/smacking sound, like that of a baby sucking at a bottle or of someone smacking their lips after a meal. The sounds continues…
Ms Jones ignores it
Ms Jones sits up and tries to figure out where the sound is coming from.
Ms Jones (loudly): Everyone okay?
Someone turns over. The sound stops. Ms Jones falls asleep.
Strange sucking/smacking sound starts again.
Ms Jones wakes up, turns over and tries to go back to sleep. After about 20 minutes the sounds stops. Ms Jones dozes off. Someone starts tossing and turning heavily in her bed. Ms Jones wakes up. The person keeps turning over and over and over for about 10 minutes.
Tossing and turning stops. Ms Jones turns over to fall back asleep. She begins to doze off.
Someone: No, it’s tomorrow.
Ms Jones (sits bolt upright and peers into the pitch black): Who’s talking? Anyone awake?
Someone: Yep, I’ll bring them with me.
Ms Jones, in despair, turns over and pulls her pillow over her head. Eventually all goes quiet and Ms Jones falls back asleep.
Smacking noise starts.
Ms Jones: OI!
Smacking noise stops.
Tossing and turning starts.
Ms Jones: OI! OI!!!!!!
Tossing and turning stops.
Ms Jones fall back to sleep.
Ms Jones, Ms Millwall and Ms Charming all wake up.
Ms Jones: Okay, so who's the werido who talks in their sleep?
Ms Charming: Yeah, I heard that too.
Ms Millwall: That’ll be me. Sometimes I do that when I’m in a new place. Sorry!
Ms Charming: And who was making that fucking weird sucking noise?
Ms Jones: Yeah, like a baby! Must’ve been you again Ms Millwall.
Ms Millwall: Really? Sucking noises? Never done that before. Sorry!
Ms Charming: Dead weird!
Ms Jones opens the shutters to reveal Ms Charming’s duvet thrashed about, her sheet all un-tucked and her pillows on the floor.
Ms Charming (looking around): Must’ve tossed and turned a bit. Sometimes I do that. And sometimes I pinch myself in my sleep. Yep, look at that bruise on my hand. Must’ve done that during the night.
Ms Millwall: You pinch yourself in your sleep? That’s a bit fucked up, innit?
Ms Jones: Yeah. Bit strange!
Ms Charming: Dunno really. Just something I do sometimes. Anyway, someone’s been giving it some big time snoring action the last ten minutes or so.
Ms Millwall: Yeah, woke me up. Must’ve been you Jonesy.
Ms Jones (pulling on tracksuit top): Yeah, well it serves you both right! Right noisy pair of fucking weirdoes, you two! Who’s for some brekkie?
September 14, 2004
*Walks in with a tray of coffee, nurofen, alkaselzter and bacon sandwiches*
Here you go everyone. Help yourselves. Thanks for looking after the old place for me. No, it’s fine, Unlucky Man. The rug was a fake and cost me a tenner down Greenwich market. And don’t worry guys, the wardrobe was on its last legs. I’ve a new one on order from Ikea anyway.
So, did you enjoy yourselves? *removes stale pizza and beer cans from armchair* Certainly looks like you did! No, no, it’s fine. I’ve done worse.
Elsie, I drink bottled anyway so don't worry about the acid!
Leggy, the less said the better, don’t you think? Thanks for the M&S vouchers, though!
Right, so who wants to hear about my holiday? To be honest, there’s not much to tell but i'll start with my arrival:
My mum and her Yorkshire mate, Batty Patty, were there to meet me at the airport. Mum chucked me the car keys; I started the engine and headed for the motorway. It’s an hour’s drive to my parent’s house and I was eager to get home and pour myself a refreshing glass of Pineau de Charente, the local aperitif. Mum and Batty Patty were deep in conversation and so I discreetly put my foot down.
Mum: Jonesy. Watch your speed.
Jonesy: Christ, I’m doing 93 in a 90 zone. I’m hardly flooring it. Honestly, it’s like driving with the Stasi sometimes!
I thought it best to slow to 90.
Once at the house, I popped next door to say hello to the neighbours, a rural French family who have lived there for countless generations. First off I called in to see Mami, the 75-year-old grandmother who lives in the original farmhouse.
Jonesy: Hello Mami *kiss on right cheek*. The weather’s amazing *kiss on left cheek*. It’s so lovely to see you *back to the right cheek*. How’ve you been *and back to the left*?
Mami: Oh, but look at you. So pale *cups my face in her hands* so tired. Why have you been away for so long? We never see you. *pinches my cheeks*. Here, sit down. A little Pineau? Put some colour back. Go on, a little one? *pours out a giant glass of Pineau* there you go.
Jonesy: Thanks. Yes, I’m tired but the country air and a lot of sleep will fix that. How are you?
Mami: Me? Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m fine here with my vegetable patch and the rabbits. We’re harvesting the potatoes tomorrow.
Jonesy: Really? Oh look, you’ve brought one of your rabbits in. *goes all soppy* How cute. Look at its ears. Ah, bless the little thing. Come here Mr Wabbit. Say hello to Jonesy-Wonesy.
Mami: Oh yes, the rabbit. I’m about to kill and skin it to make pate. Fancy giving an old lady a hand?
Jonesy: *Blanching* ah, ordinarily, Mami, I’d love to but I must go next-door and say hi to the others. See you later. Good luck with the potatoes.
Mami: Au revoir ma grande!
I gave the rabbit a sad little pat and headed round to the extension where Mami’s son Billy, his wife and three sons all live.
Now, chaps. Shall we just clean up a bit before I tell you any more?
September 13, 2004
WHERE HAVE ALL MY KNICKERS GONE???
SWEET JESUS. IS THAT BEAR SHIT I CAN SMELL???
I need a drink! Jamie, anychance of a Purple Motherfucker over here?
September 12, 2004
I have news for these people: THERE'S NO SUCH THING. Sure, there are recipes for them on the internet. But they're all wildly different, which basically means bartenders everywhere are winging it.
What is the fascination with x-rated drink names? "Sex on the Beach" is bad enough. Sheesh!
These crypto-drinks probably originate when someone asks a bartender to make something up, then asks what the concoction is called. Bartenders are notorious smartasses, so the urge to call an annoying patron's drink a "M-therf-cker" is pretty overpowering. But then they keep ordering them, and we make them up every time.
"Hey, man, gimme two Purple M-therf-ckers."
Hmm...a little vodka, a little rum, some Razzmatazz to make it purple, and maybe a splash of cranberry juice. Basically a Purple Hooter plus rum. "Here you go."
"Can you make me a Blue M-therf-cker?"
Hmm. This calls for a Blue Hawaiian. Rum, Malibu, blue curacao, pineapple juice. A cherry. "Here you go."
Color is key. It even works when there's no color in the name. Before I ever stepped behind a bar, the s.o.--who had worked as a soundman--told me the secret: If you don't know what it is, ask what the main liquor is (vodka? rum?) and then make it red. Sloe gin is nice for this. Cranberry juice and grenadine work well, too.
The only legitimate M-therf-cker drink I've ever found in a bartending book is called an "Adios, M-therf-cker." Sweet & sour, gin, vodka, rum, blue curacao (I sense a theme here), and club soda.
This could be useful. "Here you go. Adios, M-therf-cker."
September 11, 2004
*arrives with broom*
Ugh, what's this?
*sweeps evidence under the carpet*
*exits, pursued by a bear*
September 10, 2004
As we all know, Ms Jones simply adores fashionable clothing and is mad about fashion accessories. But what you didn't know - in fact, what nobody knows is that Ms Jones aspires to my fashion sense and I am, in fact, her fashion guru. As we all saw, before they were stolen by Leg Omen, Ms Jones' knickers are made of the finest silk, imported from Japan and are custom made along with a matching bra. Obviously, these undergarments are far from cheap and if Leg Omen doesn't return the stolen knickers, he will, in fact, be taken to court.
As we have a mixed audience I thought it best to talk about fashion accessories for both men and women and what better fashion accessory can one have other than a gmail account. Unlike the g-string which is a form of undergarment mainly worn by women, the gmail account is similar to your everyday email account except it is found in designer label stores such as firstname.lastname@example.org and can take up to 1000 MB of storage space and is absolutely spam-free. Gmail has been reviewed as the next Versace, if you believe in life after death, and just for the readers of Ms Jones' blog I am going to give away a free gmail account to the first 17 readers who email me.
It's time to think of Christmas, remember, and a gmail account will last forever.
“I’ve been a flippin’ idiot” I announced to m’lackey as I waltzed into the office. (Sorry. I just don’t feel comfortable swearing on someone else’s blog. Not even one that extols the virtues of the word ‘cunt’.)
“Why?” asked my cherub-faced minion.
Exasperated, I explained: “Because I arrived at the station in plenty of time. Because I then handpicked a nice lunch. Because I then grabbed a newspaper. Because I then found a nice seat near the front of the train. Because I then enjoyed my journey flicking through my paper. Because I then got off the train. Because then... and only then...did I realise I’d left my lunch behind on the train. My lunch, dear Lackey, is in Hounslow. I am not. I am here.”
I then went on to explain how this had happened because it was a “bagless” morning. Lackey understands my bagless mornings follow bagless evenings, when I leave my work bag (a manbag! Not a handbag) at the office to avoid my inevitable losing it in some backstreet bar. I explained how had my work bag been with me, I’d have remembered to pick up my lunch. I explained how I’d instead, considering myself bagless, completely forgotten about the bag containing my lunch. But none of these explanations excused the fact that I’d been a flippin’ idiot.
“You’ve been a fuckin’ idiot.” responded my fresh-faced subordinate, his voice adopting the tone of disdain I usually reserve for him. (His not knowing Bridget, inadvertently swearing on her blog. Apologies.)
Lackey, as always, was right.
“Velcom to my office.” Said the fifty something man with close cropped, receding salt and pepper hair and a huge 'Billy Gibbons' beard. His accent was one of those ‘I was once from Central Europe but you don’t have a fags chance of knowing where now’.
“Hi.” I said, nervously clutching my map book and the piece of paper with the address that said ‘Free first consultation’.
“Well carm in.” He smiled and motioned into the room.
I ‘carmed’ in to the office. It was just like any other rented office space run on a budget; tatty beige carpet, cheese plants, a cheap MDF desk, a bookcase, a sink, a kettle, two chairs and a couch type sofa thing. But it felt welcoming. Something about the room said ‘Relax’.
“Please. Carme and sit down. I’m Doctor Nicholas Prpvisksksiskkkk (No that’s not the true spelling but I don’t have a card) but please call me Doctor Nick and then use Nick.”
“Hi, Doctor Nick.” I said and paused for the ‘Hallo Everreebahdy’, but it never came. “Which chair do I sit in?”
“Oh leave the comfy leather chair for me in case I need to doze off while we talk.” He leant closer “That is my little joke by the way. Have a seat.”
I laughed. Too hard. This was slightly surreal.
“Not the sofa then?” I enquired, wiping a small laughter tear that had lost the plot and decided this laugh was its cue.
“Oh no it is only for my rich female clients, they think they get more by laying down.”
I laughed again. Properly. I was beginning to like this man. Anyway, I needed someone on ‘my side’ for an hour and I didn’t really care that this was playing out like a script to some farce….
September 09, 2004
He is unassuming and funny and clever.
I'd like to carry a bit of him around in my pocket so that I can remember his wise words thoughout the day and in times of need.
Like all wise men, sometimes he talks a load of bollocks.
He'll say stuff and I'll think 'what the arse is he talking about?'
But sometimes he arms me with ammunition to defend myself against my demons.
A few days ago he said to me, "Think of compliments as a gift...a present...if someone gave you a present you wouldn't give it back to them would you?"
He's right you know?
Today, someone paid me a compliment.
Remembering what my wise man said, I didn't look at them as if they were a freak or an inmate from the local lunatic asylum.
Instead, I smiled and said "thank you".
And I felt good.
So tell me peeps, what pocket pearls of wisdom would you dispense....?
It does bring a smile to my face when I hear these young’uns today arguing over which is the superior music genre – hip hop or techno? Why these crazy kids waste time arguing over trivial matters when there are far more burning issues out there defeats me.
A fine example is the debates that continue to rage over ‘Tip-Top’ or ‘Heck No!’
I think ‘Tip-Top’ as popular creamy dessert toppings go, was really rather shit. On the other hand I think I would probably list ‘Heck No!’ as one of my all-time favourite interjections.
I guess the world of controversy will continue to revolve…
Who has picked up Bridget's knickers (all 8 pairs of varying colours) and where have they gone ? They're not in the washing basket, nor is her footie-shirt, which is still in a crumpled mess in the corner, so who is the phantom knicker-thief ?
My bets are on Leg Omen.
September 08, 2004
Did you know that there are people out there who would make light of other people’s problems with insensitive and unkind labeling? I am appalled at such immaturity. Mentally challenged individuals have it hard enough. We shouldn’t be using phrases like--
The butter slipped off the noodles;
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer;
A few cards short of a deck; and
The light’s on but nobody’s home.
It's just not right. There are others too...can’t remember them now...a little help for this dim bulb?
So here's todays for all of you who are still asleep:
What time is Andre's train tomorrow ?
Shit, I posted this 3 hours ago - has Blogger died ?
Update: What time did I post this yesterday ?
September 07, 2004
Seen recently on the back of a packet of Tesco Salmon Fillets:
Allergy Advice: Contains Fish
A little help..?
10. Tungsten Dix
9. The Babies Who Hurt People
8. Blastic Pubble
7. Brillig & the Slithy Toves
6. Hank Vegas & the White Lightning
5. I Piss Blood (On Your Spit)
4. Funkle Ester
3. The Solstice Sisters
2. Dipstick & Eggnog
1. The Priestie Boys
“All right? You’re Belinda’s sister aren’t you? Bridget’s! Bridget’s! Yeah that girl over there told me I should talk to you haha anyone would think she was trying to get rid of me haha, you got a drink then, yeah good, mind if I squeeze in here right next to you? So you’re an actress right so you been in any films then? Shakespeare on stage? Hey, you gotta start somewhere haven’t you though. I’ll tell you a really good film for acting – Top Gun. Yeah you really believe in him, is that the sort of thing you wanna do? Actually I know a bit about acting myself, my brother’s an actor in the US. Yeah you might have seen him actually. Disneyland, Florida. Who? Well Goofy mainly, but there’s holidays and vacations and stuff so they all have to be flexible and know different parts. You just got back? So guess it must be quite lonely for you being away a lot and all the blokes being gay and that? Yeah, yeah, of course, don’t worry, see you in a minute, I’ll still be here when you get back...”
3am, Saturday morning.
“No, not yet, it’s too early” I complained (or so I was reminded later).
Though I’d woken with a start, my good friend Bookseller was merely looking out for my best interests: “Get up, Unlucky, you’ve already missed your stop!”
He’d saved me. Unsure what to do Friday night, the Blagging Gods had smiled down on me, showering Bookseller and myself with gig tickets, aftershow passes, real life women to speak to, and free alcohol. Barely acknowledging his considerate gesture, I jumped off the bus at the next stop. I staggered the few hundred yards home. And remembered to smile back up at the Blagging Gods.
3am, Sunday morning.
“No, leave me, I’m comfortable” he complained (as I shall be reminding him later).
Though he’d woken with a start, I was merely looking out for his best interests: “Get up, Bookseller, our train’s arriving!”
I’d saved him. After a relatively cultured evening with friends, their family, good food and abysmal football, the journey back from South West to South East London should have been fairly straightforward. But the forty-minute delay to our train – quite an accomplishment, given the absence of any other trains an hour either side of it – provided Bookseller with adequate time to nod off on the sumptuous comfort of the station’s waiting room bench. We jumped on the train. And eventually made it home.
That’s what friends are for, isn’t it?
Not only have I recently discovered that 'Elvis' is alive and well and living in my part of London. I also now know that ‘Elvis’ reads the Daily Mirror. This is a startling fact and one I don’t think many of the ‘aficionados’ know. I discovered this nugget of information when I bumped into the legend as he was leaving the local corner shop. I held the door in reverent awe as ‘The Pelvis’ negotiated the crisp rack and my loafish body propping the exit open.
"Thankyouvermuch." He breathed and nodded as he strolled away.
I dropped the Sport section of the Daily Telegraph.
"That man is awesome." I said to the counter assistant as I reconsolidated the paper and proffered my voucher.
"Yes, Bernie is a funny man." He replied, in his urban Asian/London accent.
‘Elvis’ is called Bernie and he reads the Daily Mirror. This is a massive revelation.
All you lazy slackers, where are you ? You should be here, NOW, posting for Ms Jones but I bet you're all tucked up in beddy-bies. Great bunch of bloggers and mates and whatever you are. So, tell me, what time is it NOW, here in Bruxelles, as I post this ? Ms Jones has a prize ready for you, you know.
September 06, 2004
Today I'm here to write a love letter to the people and places of Florida, because they've been taking it on the chin lately, storm-wise, and I'd like them to know I'm thinking of them.
Contrary to reason and geography, Florida isn't part of the south. Or I should say, not all of it is. In the northeastern corner of the state, Jacksonville--home of Lynyrd Skynyrd--is as southern a city as you will ever find. The northwestern panhandle is widely known as the Redneck Riviera. But somewhere around Daytona Beach, Florida morphs into "the sixth borough," the adoptive home of millions of weather-weary New Yorkers. (If I remember right, there is an excellent deli just a few steps from the ocean in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.) That's what makes it special--that weird mix of seventh-generation crackers and new arrivals. That, and the hot sunny weather.
My first vacation, at age 3, was to the newly built Walt Disney World. I was too young to remember much of it, but to this day, every time I see photos of the original "Magic Kingdom" part of the park, something in me comes alive.* Maybe that's why I've always been drawn to Florida.
Florida means "vacation" to me. Once there was an idyllic week in sleepy Apalachicola, where the s.o. and I ate eight dozen raw oysters at a sitting and lived to tell the tale. Another time the s.o.'s old band played in Gainesville just before Spring Break, and the convenience stores were packed with sandy-footed college kids buying last-minute supplies.
I used to have to go to Florida for work-related conferences. I sneaked away and visited historic monuments in Ft. Myers. I shopped for vintage clothing and watched the tree sloths in the trees on the town square. In Miami, I gorged myself on guava-and-cheese pastries at the panaderias. I had my picture taken with a parrot standing on my head. I went on a cruise.
Baseball spring training beckoned this year. Not only did we see the Orioles and the Dodgers gearing up for the summer season, but we made Dania Beach into our home-away-from-home. We sunbathed among the football-skinned oldsters. We ate and drank at a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar in Hollywood, throwing our shrimp shells over the railing to the giant fish looming below. We spent hours betting on jai alai and horse racing**. We thrift-shopped and we took long walks on the Dania pier. Our dog Silver came with us, and her nostrils flared with excitement at all the strange new fishy smells.
I would never live in Florida. I'm too much of a geologist at heart to live in a place that will probably be underwater in a couple of decades, and which is underwater now whenever the wind kicks up. I'm not the kind of person who can tolerate the idea of a sinkhole opening up in my driveway. I'm also not very fond of cockroaches.
But I love that place, and I try to go at least once a year. Something is missing if I can't drive along that steamy central section of the Florida Turnpike at night, sucking the heady smell of orange blossoms into my lungs.
*snaps out of reverie*
Hey, um, if you're not going to finish that sandwich, I'll have it.
* That's also probably why I was so impressed with Bavaria when I visited in 2002. It looked familiar and nostalgic to me. I know that it's backwards and wrong to recognize a country by its Disney imitation, but so be it.
** As far as I can tell, the strategy for winning at these is the same: You absorb as many facts and statistics as you can, then you look at the body language of the entity you're thinking of betting on. The winning jai alai players will grin and wink and puff up their chests and playfully jostle their opponents before the match. The winning horse will have what we call "the crazy eye" and will be nearly twitching out of its skin because it's so ready to run. Every time I have ignored these signs because the racing forms or season records told me otherwise, I've lost money. Eventually I have always lost money, because these places sell drinks and that plays hell on my concentration.
I came here expecting a tidy little blog and really, there are dirty knickers all over the place, a muddy pair of extremely smelly football boots in one corner and if I'm not mistaken, there's a football shirt in a crumpled heap by them. This is not what I expected at all, I tell you, and no doubt I've been asked to 'guestblog' in the vain hope that I'll tidy up the place. Let me put this to you straight: the vacuum cleaner is for sucking up the dust etc on the floor and is not something that you leave out for guests to see. Or use. Ms Jones, you may be able to bribe the dear, sweet Andre, but you'll get a bollocking from me.
Oh, I forgot to tell you - Andre is unavailable at the moment as I tied him up in the garage last night.
September 05, 2004
- £95.40 for a cramped seat with fold down table-ette which would be my "home" for 4.5 hours
- £95.40 for a train which should have had 5 carriages, but only had 4 (though my estimate was, from the number of people standing, that it needed about 9...)
- £95.40 for a train which, on top of its diminutive stature, had to take on the additional burden of passengers from a broken down train to Glasgow
- £95.40 for a carriage which contained the added bonus of a gang of vulgarly attired, tackily accessorised, shrill-voiced cackling harridans. Also known as "A Hen Party"... I was counting the minutes, nay the seconds, until they got off at Crewe - destination Liverpool - you lucky, lucky Scousers! Note to self: next time, take the Walkman...
- £95.40 for a journey we'd booked well in advance (and it's lucky we did book in advance, otherwise I would have been regarding that cramped seat with envious eyes from a standing position)
So, between the Big Fella and me, that's £190.80 to travel from Taunton to Kendal (Cumbria). A journey I could have done in the car for about £60. A great incentive to use public transport, non?
September 04, 2004
Which is how the Song would go if I was Kirsty McCall and I lived in Hampton.
This man is cool. Not because his sideburns are long and fluffy or that he wears large sunglasses, nor that all of this is topped off with his variation on the ‘Elvis boilersuit’. Yes, he drives a battered red Ford Sierra and appears at the corner-shop everyday to buy fags and a newspaper but this man is cool.
He’s cool not because he seems to live in a Teddy-Boy/ Elvis fantasy land but as I walked past him this morning and said ‘Morning’ his response was an Elvis-like;
Now that’s living..
September 03, 2004
Tomorrow I’m going to France. I won’t be taking my laptop. I won’t be using my parent’s computer. I won’t go to an Internet café. I will lie by a pool, drink red wine, eat good food and relax. I cannot wait!
But what of my blog? Should I just leave it? Should I let it fester? Should I pull the plug for a week?
I’ve asked a bunch of people to come and blog sit for me. They’ll be posting as and when they choose, as many times as they choose and about anything they choose. They’ll be posting from Georgia to Taunton, from London to Birkenhead, from Trenton to Belgium. There’ll be something for everyone – I hope.
There are only two rules:
1. No nastiness
2. No politics
I’m back on the 13th and it’s open house until then. So, have a great week and enjoy yourselves… just make sure you’ve cleaned up by the time I get back.
ps. Guestbloggers: you need to accept the invitation I sent you so that my blog appears on your dashboard!
I was out in Mayfair last night with some people from work. I hate Mayfair. It’s so up it’s own arse but it’s where my office is so there we go! We were in a wine bar having a chat when a senior colleague and his incredibly rich airhead girlfriend strolled over to say hello. Suddenly all the girls round the table became incredibly overexcited about the girlfriend’s bag. It was a fairly big black shoulder bag with pink trimming.
“It must be the latest Gucci or Dior,” I thought, not having a clue about these things.
The “ooohing” and “ahhhing” carried on and on and I thought, “Christ, it’s only a fucking bag,” until she unzipped it and out poked a little black nose.
The woman had bought her designer puppy out with her for the night in a designer puppy bag with pink trimming. Both the puppy and her bag matched her shoes!
What’s going on?
September 02, 2004
Thanks to all for your funny ditties that have kept me smiling.
Special thanks go to JonnyB for his persistent efforts and to heonlylivestwice for the Embrace The Good Will Out tip. It's been on repeat for the last couple of hours.
And now, I'm off out with the girls from work for a bit of a blow out. Lord knows I need it!
Anon, good friends. Anon!
Yes, dear friends. Jonesy is in a mood. Her pesky demons are taking advantage of her EXTREMELY hormonal state and are trying to bite her in the arse. But there is one thing that demons hate… laughter.
Your mission, dear readers, should you choose to accept it, is to make me laugh! Do your worst in this here comments box.
September 01, 2004
Pub Quiz Queens... almost!
We were poised, pens at the ready, pints to hand and cigarettes on standby. The pressure was on to perform. The first time round, my sister and dutchie had come last. When my mates and I had joined them the week after, we came second last. Princess Charming and I needed to go one better to keep us on the upward curve, and this time there was only the two of us.
The pub quiz is taken pretty seriously in our household in a whatever happens we can’t come last again kind of way. Princess Charming and I weren’t feeling all that confident having watched Junior Mastermind beforehand without getting any of the questions right.
The first round was the photo round and we had to name the ten famous Olympians pictured. There was no time limit on this; we could carry on debating throughout the quiz, right up to the wire if we wanted. We were confident about eight of them, were clueless about one and the last one was on the tip of my tongue. I’d seen a documentary about him just weeks before. It was no use, though. I couldn’t get the name.
I glanced to the table and saw my mobile phone. Could I? Would it be very wrong of me? Just one question? No one would know…
The text read: Pub quiz, black man that won gold at Hilter’s Olympics
Sent to: Dad, Gaffer, Our Kid, Scottish Lad Calvin and Neil. I figured we needed all the help we could get.
The quiz started proper:
Ex-Hack Quiz Master: Eyes down for question one. Which two cities of the following four…
My phone vibrated. It was Calvin: Jesse Owens, we think.
Bingo. I knew it. Excellent.
Ex-Hack Quiz Master: Question two, okay, right. Two parts this one. How old, okay, is Kelly Holmes and who won a gold a silver and a bronze for Team GB.
My phone vibrated again, then again.
Dad: Jesse Owens
Neil: Jesse Owens
Gaffer: Jesse Owens
Our Kid: Jesse Owens
Ex-Hack Quiz Master: Question three is about football, okay right! Which three teams, okay, have names that end in Athletic. Right?
We knew two of them, Charlton and Oldham, but we couldn’t think of the third. I glanced back at my phone. One more wouldn’t hurt? Would it?
The text read: Three teams ending in Athletic. Charlton, Oldham and who?
Sent to: Gaffer, Our Kid, Scottish Lad Calvin and Neil.
Ex-Hack Quiz Master: Question four… eyes down...
We didn’t text out for help after that and my phone remained very quiet for the rest of the quiz. Clearly no one knew the answer to the Athletic one and we were running out of time.
But at the very last minute, just as the quizmaster was coming round, my phone vibrated.
It was Calvin again: AFC Bournemouth. A stands for Athletic. We think.
We scribbled it in with no more than seconds to spare and sat back hoping we hadn’t disgraced ourselves too badly.
The quiz master gave us another team’s sheet to mark and it became apparent, as he read out the answers, that we weren’t going to be covered in all that much glory. However, we fared better than the team we were marking and so at least we knew we weren’t going to come last.
Ex-Hack Quiz Master: Answer to question three, the three football teams ending in Athletic are, Charlton (check), Oldham (check, hold breath) and Wigan (Flip! Remind me to scratch Calvin from my Christmas card list).
In the end we came fourth from last with 18 points out of forty. We weren’t excellent by any stretch of the imagination but at least we’d bettered second last, putting the pressure squarely back on Jez and Dutchie's shoulders.
Happy with the result and feeling only slightly guilty for being such outrageous cheats, we ordered one for the road. The quiz master joined us and we tried to pick his brain about where he gets his questions from. Naturally, because his quiz is a very serious thing indeed, he managed to keep his guard up despite the neat vodka he was drinking.
Time was called and we wandered contentedly home.
My phone vibrated.
It was Gaffer texting from the States: Wigan. Definitely Wigan.